We had a lot of fun making our paper mache Earth model. We decided to do a cut-away version to show Earth’s layers. I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out just like I had in mind with the slight exception of the fact that I couldn’t find any round balloons, so it wasn’t perfectly round. It made a great, hands-on science project to which I think we’ll refer back frequently as we go through Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space this year.
Supplies needed to make a paper mache Earth model
- a balloon
- Sharpie marker
- newspaper, torn into strips about 1-inch wide
How to make a paper mache Earth model
Step 1: Inflate balloon and, if you’re making a cut-away model, mark off the cut-away area. I drew an area covering about a fourth of the balloon for the cut-away portion.
Step 2: Make the paper mache paste by mixing flour, about a tablespoon of salt (to help prevent mold) and enough water to make a thick paste with a consistency similar to glue. I didn’t give an exact measurement for the flour because we didn’t really measure it. I’d say the first couple of layers, in which we covered most of the balloon, took about a cup of flour. Subsequent layers over the “cut-away” part only took a quarter to a half-cup.
**I did discover that any extra can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or so. I just had to stir it up and add a bit more water the next time we used it.
Step 3: Cover all of the balloon except the cut-away portion with strips of newspaper dipped in the mache paste. Make sure to make the strips lining the cut-away portion as square as possible. Let dry overnight, or until thoroughly dry, and add a second layer.
Step 4: Once you have at least two layers of dry paper mache covering the balloon, burst the balloon and remove it from the paper mache shell.
Step 5: Cover the cut away portion of the paper mache shell by layering newspaper strips as tautly as possible over the open portion. Keep everything as taut and square as possible and try to make a defined line separating the top and bottom halves. Let dry overnight and add a second layer.
You may want to wad up a small ball of dry newspaper for the Earth’s core. If so, do this when you add the second layer. Cover this with a couple of layers of newspaper dipped in the paper mache paste and let dry.
Step 6: Once the layers are completely dry, draw the circles marking the Earth’s layers (we only did the standard four, even though our text listed five) and draw out the continents, being sure to leave some of them cut off for the cut-away part.
For Earth’s layers, I drew a circle around the lump we made for the core. Then, I drew four lines off from that, sectioning the center into fourths. I then drew arcs (think: rainbows), connecting them at the lines to achieve even layers. Those who are more artistic than I am can probably skip this step. ;-)
Step 7: Paint the layers, the continents and the oceans. We used acrylic paint. You may want to let the paint dry a bit between “layers,” so that the colors don’t run together. Then, enjoy your masterpiece!
**As a mostly unrelated note, I’m sure people wonder, so, in the interest of full disclosure, those beautifully manicured nails are not mine. They belong to my thirteen-year-old daughter. Mine are short, stubby, brittle little things that break at the drop of a hat. Yes, they are her natural nails and, yes, I am slightly jealous.